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‘I get excited every year for it.’ Havre de Grace’s annual Duck Drop celebrates dawning of new year

People don’t have to travel to New York City to watch a giant object drop as part of a New Year’s celebration. Similar to the infamous ball drop in Manhattan, Maryland has a few “drops” of its own — Frederick has a Key Drop in homage of Francis Scott Key; Hagerstown has a Donut Drop hosted by the donut shop Krumpe’s; and where else would you find a Crab Drop other than in Easton?

And then there’s Havre de Grace. The “self-proclaimed duck decoy capital of the world,” as Ed Grainger calls the city, is again hosting its annual Duck Drop.

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The event is hosted by the Susquehanna Hose Company, of which Grainger is both a firefighter and chairman of the Duck Drop committee. This year’s events will take place at Concord Point Park, kicked off by a set from DJ Jeff Thompson at 10 p.m. At midnight, not only will the foam duck, which Grainger built himself, drop about 100 feet from the fire company’s ladder truck, fireworks also will be set off from a barge in the Chesapeake Bay just beyond the park.

Susquehanna Hose Company members Malena Carroll, left, and Tom Phelan, right, check a few last bulbs on the duck as they and a small group of Susquehanna Hose Company volunteers perpare the duck Wednesday evening December 29, 2021 for this year's Duck Drop.
Susquehanna Hose Company members Malena Carroll, left, and Tom Phelan, right, check a few last bulbs on the duck as they and a small group of Susquehanna Hose Company volunteers perpare the duck Wednesday evening December 29, 2021 for this year's Duck Drop. (Matt Button / The Aegis/Baltimore Sun Media)

Grainger has been with the fire company for 27 years. He was also part of the original group who first started this Duck Drop tradition back in 1999. “I get excited every year for it.”

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Aside from 2000, the event has taken place every year since. Mayor Bill Martin also has not missed a Duck Drop since it started.

“We welcome people from all over to celebrate the New Year with the good people of Havre de Grace,” he said.

Food trucks had been apart of the event in the past, but the city decided to not allow them this year, according to Grainger. However, after another meeting with the city earlier this week, the city decided against requiring masks at the event, leaving Grainger “a little worried.” But he believes most of the expected 500 to 1,000 attendees will wear masks.

The event will be livestreamed from the city’s YouTube page.

Ed Grainger with the Susquehanna Hose Company untangles a string of lights as he works on the number two at the Hose Company House One Sunday afternoon December 26, 2021 in preparation for the upcoming Duck Drop on New Years Eve.
Ed Grainger with the Susquehanna Hose Company untangles a string of lights as he works on the number two at the Hose Company House One Sunday afternoon December 26, 2021 in preparation for the upcoming Duck Drop on New Years Eve. (Matt Button / The Aegis/Baltimore Sun Media)
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